Two Poems by Thaina Joyce






Why I Hate Going to the Doctor

I’d rather drive with my windows down to the hair salon

than to my doctor’s office. My hairdresser examines

the texture of my hair with a clinical eye,

excises the unhealthy, and inquires about my life

without any script. I arrive at the doctor’s office, check in on the iPad

and get shoved aside by the next patient. The receptionist

collected my payment and called me by the wrong name.

The nurse wraps the cuff around my bicep, squeezing it tighter

than the time I’ll see my doctor. She says my blood pressure

is one notch higher than usual. My anxiety wants to yell at her.

The doctor enters the room and stares at me for a minute longer

than my list of symptoms, begging for attention. I swing

my legs suspended on the patient’s table to catch up on the exercise

I’ve put off this year. I hold my concerns at the tip of my tongue,

careful not to swallow – I can’t gain any more weight. Hands scouring

the circumference of my breasts for the date of my last period. She asks

If I am over thirty, my response makes the clock tick louder. She takes

a dramatic walk to the sink tells me everything feels normal.

As she prepares to exit the room, I declare I am in pain.

She tells me everything is normal. I ask about the eight ounces

of myself I left in the bathroom earlier, my body’s plea. I asked for it

to be sent out to the lab. I ask her for a comment on the results.

I ask for medical help.

I ask.

She tells me everything is normal.

The Big Bad Wolf

A call from the neighbor

begs I’d take the back street when

coming home. I panic. I ask why but she

doesn’t answer. I get off the bus, and my heartbeat

escalates to strikes. I hasten through the gravel,

fearing the unknown. I arrive at the house—my mother

gestures for me to come in. Agitated

hands, a personal earthquake hiding behind her back.

I stand strong with my feet rooted deeper than a shepherd’s tree.

juddering chest, prepared for timber. The news,

knife cutting through my arteries. Today I almost

lost my ground. A drug addict, mad at the other.

my brother, a tragic statistic in the making. My mother

negotiates with the man behind a one-inch wooden shield. She stands

on her feet stiff like a board, braver than ever. A loud

plea, don’t shoot. He is sleeping; please go home. Feeling

qualm. He draws a cross over the door with his gun barrel, the

raspy voice responds: Let me in…sleeping is easier. He won’t see a thing.

She clamors for safety until death fades away. My brother sleeps

through the nightmare. My mother prays to wake

up. Choking on words, her body becomes

vacant. Her soul knows the end came too close when the big bad

wolf had the guts to show up to blow our house down,

x my brother out of the world without a chance to fight back,

Yabbering. Going on about killing behind our brick house, tough as my mother. Ever a

Zealous protector of the ones she put in this world, offering her life in return.

Thaina (she/her) is a Brazilian-American poet and educator based in Maryland. Nominated for Best of the Net by Sledgehammer Lit, her poetry has also been featured in Olney Magazine, Lumiere Review, South Africa New Contrast, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, and elsewhere. She hopes her work will empower, connect the human experience, and evoke new perspectives. Find her on IG: @thainawrites Twitter: @teedistrict.

Image: FOTO:FORTEPAN / Berkó Pál, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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